|11 December 2013|
|Aaron Mc Ghee proved this week playing for Ural Ekaterinburg that at 34, he can still get the job done|
Nine teams punched their ticket to the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge on Tuesday, joining Triumph Lyubertsy, the only team to have already secured a spot.
The nine clubs that made the big step during Week 6 of the Regular Season are Royal Hali Gaziantep and Krasnye Krylia Samara from Group B, Gaz Metan Medias from Group D, Reggio Emilia from Group E, Ural Ekaterinburg from Group F, Cholet and Bakken Bears from Group G and finally Tsmoki Minsk and Szolnoki Olaj from Group H.
With 10 of the berths in the Last 16 now having met their rightful owners, the two top spots in both Group A and Group C are still up for grabs, while only one ticket remains in contention in each of groups E and F.
A total of 10 teams are vying for the remaining six places and will all know their fate on Tuesday 17 December, when the last round of games in the Regular Season takes place.
Let's have a closer look at some noteworthy facts that we can take from the penultimate game day of the Regular Season.
Blast From The Past:
Aaron Mc Ghee will be able to discourage questions about his impeding retirement plans at least until the end of the season after coming up with the top statistical performance in Week 6 of the EuroChallenge.
In a tough game for his team on the road, the 34-year-old big man went 10-for-10 from the foul line to score 21 points, collected a season-high 18 rebounds and blocked two shots for good measure.
The veteran center's display was sufficient to propel Ural Ekaterinburg to an 82-77 win at Tofas Bursa, which secured them a spot in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge.
|Keep an eye on BC Kyiv's Vyacheslav Bobrov to push for a spot to play in EuroBasket 2015 on home soil|
Keep An Eye On:
The Tuesday clash between BC Kyiv and Triumph Lyubertsy might have been a 'dead rubber' as, despite their 54-52 win, the Ukrainian side will bid farewell to the competition next week while the Russian team advances to the Last 16, but Kyiv still provided an excellent chance for some young players to showcase their abilities on the big stage.
Ukrainian international Vyacheslav Bobrov picked up a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds and added four assists and three steals to round out his brilliant performance. Bobrov, who turned 21 in September, was a linchpin of the Ukrainian national teams in European Championships at U16, U18 and U20 level and, despite his relatively small size for the position (2.02m), stood out as a highly promising power forward.
The youngster made his debut with the senior national team in the Qualification Round for EuroBasket 2013 and if he continues to progress at this rate he will be a firm candidate for Mike Fratello's 12-man squad at the home EuroBasket in 2015.
Stat Of The Week:
BK Ventspils converted an excellent 74.3% of their shots from two-point range against Södertälje Kings, which constitutes the highest precision rate from within the arc by any team so far this season, and the eighth-best display in terms of two-point field goal percentage during the last three seasons of the EuroChallenge.
Yet despite this clinical two-point shooting performance, the Latvian side lost 83-80 to their Swedish hosts.
It might seem puzzling, it might appear to be exactly the kind of anecdotal evidence that those in the 'Stats Lie' camp rely on, but Ventspils head coach Robert Stehlmahers knew exactly what caused his team's defeat.
"We wanted to win this game, but our bad free-throw shooting and that we missed so many three pointers hurt us badly," he said.
Ventspils abused the three-point shot, making only seven of their 24 attempts from that range, and in addition wasted eight of their 15 free-throws, at the same time that Södertälje were turning every trip to the charity stripe to gold, sinking all 14 of their shots from the line.
Hitting The Headlines:
|The success of Chris Christoffersen and the Bakken Bears is one of the feel-good stories of the EuroChallenge Regular Season|
When the final buzzer sounded and Bakken Bears Aarhus glimpsed at the scoreboard which showed they had defeated Kataja Basket 68-66 on the road, they could still not grasp the full significance of their second win over their Finnish neighbours in as many games.
"Now we have a great chance to qualify to the next round and I think that would be a huge step for Danish basketball," said Bakken head coach Ville Tuominen who, incidentally, is a Finn.
Approximately 90 minutes later, Cholet defeated ZZ Leiden in the other group G game and the Danish team secured their passage to the Last 16, with the other ticket from the group going to the French side.
The Bears have put in so many good performances in the EuroChallenge this season, that it is easy to forget that the club represents a country whose senior national team has never participated at a major tournament and even competed in the former Division C as recently as 2010.
Quote Of The Week:
"The Last 16 is the purpose of the club. We will do everything to make it," said Port of Antwerp Giants head coach Paul Vervaeck following his team's 77-72 win over SPM Shoeters Den Bosch, that threw wide open the race for qualification in Group A.